so, i have been very, very busy these last few days trying to find a place to live and figuring out things like argentinean cell phones (i’m still pretty bad at writing texts in ‘word’ mode… i don’t even use that in english. also, there are about a million ways you have to learn to dial other phones- there are different numeric prefixes if they’re cell or land lines, and then to have people dial you you need to give them like 12 numbers… it’s complicated). i also had to recognize that the kind of shady-looking hole-in-the-wall ‘kioscos’ are actually the most important vendors in this whole city and that everyone goes to them for everything from phone cards to sodas to ice cream. also, argentinean spanish has a bunch of crazy pronunciations, some of which sound italian (the whole language here sounds italian-esque), some just… argentinean.
thanks to chris and jen for reading (and telling me you did so).
HAPPY NEW YEAR / SHANAH TOVAH to all the jews.
and, for the more educated reader,
is this blog pretentious enough yet?
other things i have to do in the next day or two: buy a wireless router which i have to sell before i leave; buy some curtains or cheap material that i can fashion into a curtain (the windows everywhere all have these wooden slats that block out the light, but they’re kind of ugly); plan out how much money i have versus how much money i am going to use… oy. summary is to be cont’d.
p.s. you should all get skype immediately.
here are some of the non-argentinean things i have seen on argentinean tv:
(all have been either subtitled or dubbed.)
– south park (dubbed)
– closer (the movie – subtitled)
– arizona dream, starring johnny depp in 1993 (subtitled)
– the simpsons (dubbed)
– rock of love, season 2 (subtitled… but i wish it were dubbed)
– casino royale, daniel craig version (subtitled. watching him right now… qué guapo)
– volver (i lied! this wasn’t subtitled or dubbed because it’s already en español!)
– i forget… i got distracted by daniel craig.
i’ll try to remember important things like this from now on.
OH! also, nothing is edited, which is awesome. movies are all swearing and nudity here; they don’t bleep out the english swears, nor do they eclipse them in the translation. best.
ok, so. here is (some of) what i did from my arrival up to this point.
i got here, received a complimentary cup of café con leche, was able to check in early, and took a nap. then i woke up, went out, and got a cell phone (i had to bring it back the next day to get it to actually work). i proceeded to walk around the area called palermo soho, where i’m staying.
here are some places i checked out and liked:
– kiev, a kitschy little store where i bought a wallet made out of spanish wonder-woman comics (approx. $8). i think that e.b. and jen would like this place the most.
– i walked up and down calle j.l. borges about a million times, just reveling in the fact that i could be on a street called borges… me encanta. here’s a borges photo by diane arbus.
– oro y cándido had delicious coffee. there is a lot of good coffee around. it’s miraculous. this place was especially cute, though, and had cool free postcards.
– perhaps my favorite find, papelera palermo, was chock full of lovely handmade paper, journals, posters, serigraphs… everything beautiful. also, i’m sure it wasn’t cheap by argentinean standards, but it was dirt cheap compared to what this art stuff goes for in boston and n.y.c. (handmade journal for $4 !) i wanted to buy posters there, but i didn’t want to tote them around with me for months, so i have to go back. frequently.
– i also liked boutique del libro, a 2-tiered bookstore with a very cool café inside. the whole place was wood-paneled, and had one of those sliding ladders (like in the library in beauty and the beast…) so you could climb it and see the books that were way up high.
these all were only in one tiny little part of town. this city is absolutely massive… i had no concept of it, really. this is one of the most trendy parts, but there are a lot of just nice, independent places without pretension. (there are also some with pretension. but who cares?)
i’ve also been looking at rooms / apartments. i should be settled by the end of the day monday; more on that when i feel like it.
look at that; you all just learned spanish.
i’m here, and it’s really cool. i’m also crazy tired. more later!
i am trying to figure out what i need to bring. there are scattered pieces of paper all over my room.
in the meantime, here is what i have checked off the old list:
– finished going through art / stationery supplies – kind of. still a mess.
– dealt with all the film. got developing trays. only bringing cyanotype chemicals.
– got RAM, calibrated laptop monitor.
– got absentee ballot sent to me.
– exchanged some currency, need to get more.
– almost found somewhere to live. progress.
– got everyone their parting gifts and wedding gifts and cards and whatnot.
– i love jessamyn because she is probably the only one actually reading this. and because we had fun at nate’s wedding, and she is taking care of my film of ben acting like a model. yay jess!
i have a lot to do.
right now i am going to put together more clothes. and maybe shoes.
also: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEN WOODS.
i got an email the other day from a few people i met in cuba, and the amount of devastation left by hurricanes gustav and ike is unfathomable.
the media here is understandably focused on texas and the hurricanes’ damage to the southern part of our country, but there is an omittance of news about this cuban tragedy that borders on complete denial.
this article is just one description. the central and eastern parts of the island were hit so hard that hundreds of thousands of people, if not more, don’t have homes or even towns to return to.
the only aid we can give cuba now is through private organizations. it’s a long story, but it suffices to say that the cuban government (NOT its population) rejected a U.S. offer of relief aid, asking instead to have the trade embargo temporarily suspended so the country can buy the goods it needs to rebuild. they otherwise have to pay up-front cash to third parties in other countries and get goods shipped, which takes longer… apparently they can’t just run up tons of national debt like our country can.
we, of course, rejected this request, but conceded that some aid would be given to newly licensed private organizations to, in turn, be donated to cuba. as far as i am aware of, though, the individual money transfer rules have not changed (if it’s coming from america, only $100 per month, and it has to go to your immediate family). only the organizations can send money transfers regardless of this criteria. hence, i can’t directly help the people i know by wiring them money, which is heartbreaking.
this LA times piece is really informative and gives some insight at the end as to the U.S.-cuba relationship. did you know that the united states rejected an offer that involved 1,500 cuban doctors (some of the best trained in the world) going to new orleans and caring for katrina victims in the hurricane’s aftermath? it’s not only cuba that gets hurt by our governments’ squabbling.
i found a few private orgs that are government-certified nonprofits, and they are very up-front about the minor running costs of their organizations. if you can and will, here they are. anything is appreciated, obviously, and i’m sure you could find others on the internet if these don’t suit you.
global links is small, focused, and dedicated. looks like an amazing project, so read it.
operation USA gets donations from doctors, medical suppliers, and pharmaceutical companies and then collects public donations to ship them all to cuba.
the cuban american national foundation has exhausted its license by already sending $250,000 in donations, but will hopefully soon be running under another license for the same amount. they can send money to specific affected families if you care to specify.
this article highlights a few ‘more relevant’ facts:
1. “state television said officials had taken measures to protect thousands of tourists at vulnerable seaside hotels, including about 10,000 foreigners at the varadero resort, east of havana.”
hmm. while cuban citizens are evacuated and lose their homes.
misdirection of resources by raúl and his team, perhaps…
2. “a few street signs were toppled at the U.S. naval base at guantánamo bay in southeast cuba… but no injuries were reported, and the military said cells containing detainees – about 255 men suspected of links to the taliban and al-qaida – are hurricane-proof.”
hurricane proof cells at guantánamo. because we care.
…about cubans’ welfare. wow.
aaaaahhhhhhhhhhh less than 10 days until i leave. and i haven’t done anything.
things to do over the evenings of this week:
– finish going through art / stationery supplies.
– go to the art store for cotton paper, pens.
– order film, unpackage film, pack film in lead bags.
– decide to get / get developing trays, 120mm tank and reel too?
– should i bring a small pack of darkroom paper?
– clear stuff off laptop, buy/install RAM.
– back up computer, calibrate monitor. calibrate battery if time.
– buy lots of stuff at walgreens or cvs or something.
– vote absentee at city hall.
– exchange currency! ack.
– books! reading ones plus travel ones.
– DON’T forget headphones, chargers. will be angry later.
– sort out clothes, shoes, accessories, and everything.
– figure out which suitcases/carry-ons to use.
– possibly buy hard-shelled suitcase?
– figure out how the hell everything is going to fit
– …and not weigh three thousand lbs.
– PACK EVERYTHING.
oh, and, find somewhere to live?!?
i need to vote absentee!
it’s odd that i will be an absentee for my first presidential election vote.
photo from portroids. check it out.
this from the bbc news’s day in pictures feature:
“frustrated commuters in argentina set fire to a passenger train after the rail company has trouble meeting rush-hour demand.”
that is not exactly what i’ve been hoping to see.
travel and photo items are both more important than food. i am going to be living on coffee (because that is the one thing i would pick if i could only afford one thing)!
my brother seth is currently making me watch criss angell: mindfreak, which is probably the worst show i’ve ever seen (not to mention the most annoying magician). if i’m going to watch bad magic, please give me gob bluth any day.
p.s. this blog has A.D.D.